Pro-Israel handbook explains how to attack professors and ‘co-opt’ students of color
(Mondoweiss) -- by Phan Nguyen --
Last week, the David Project released its “white paper” on Israel advocacy in US colleges and universities, titled A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges.
The David Project is perhaps best known for its smear campaign against Columbia professor Joseph Massad in 2004–05, and more recently, for creating the most boring and uninspiring “Shit People Say” video.
Unlike previous hasbara handbooks, A Burning Campus? dispenses with the usual talking points and approaches Israel advocacy on college campuses more strategically.
As I demonstrate below, the report is surprisingly frank about how the anti-Semitism charge is used as a weapon, what is the best way to attack college professors, and which minority groups are best to, in their words, “co-opt.”
The anti-Semitism charge as a tactic
The report is candid about how the anti-Semitism charge is used as a tactic. What it determines however, is that the tactic is ultimately ineffective and that other tactics should be employed.
Throughout the report, the authors assert that anti-Semitism is not a pervasive problem on college campuses:
Most American campuses are not hostile environments for most Jewish students....The chief concern therefore is not the welfare of Jewish students but that a pervasively negative atmosphere will affect the long-term thinking of current college students, negatively affecting strong bipartisan support for Israel.Because anti-Semitism is not pervasive, such accusations are ineffective:
Racial antisemitism of the kind most associated with the Nazis is not likely a serious problem on any American college campus. Swastikas appearing on a dorm room door or other similar manifestations are often dealt with quickly and seriously.
Campus is largely not a hostile environment for Jewish students. There has probably never been a richer array of ways for students to engage in meaningful Jewish activities today than there has ever been, including at schools where anti-Israelism is widespread.
Pro-Israel organizations have often cast the challenge on campus as an assault on Jewish students rather than as a spreading pervasive negativity toward Israel. Casting the issue in these terms does not jive with the lived experience of many Jewish students, who know they can identify as Jews and largely not suffer repercussions...Therefore other tactics must be utilized.
[D]epicting campus as hostile to Jews has not to date proven to be an effective strategy for decreasing anti-Israelism on campus...
How to attack professors
Instead of accusing your professors of anti-Semitism, accuse them of abusing their positions. This will produce higher returns:
[A]ccusing faculty members who propagandize against Israel of “academic malpractice” is likely to be a much more effective strategy than challenging specific allegations or invoking anti-Jewish bigotry. Rightly or wrongly, the current campus atmosphere is much more sympathetic to charges that teachers are not satisfactorily teaching their subject than to complaints of anti-Jewish bias and Israel supporters will likely have a greater practical impact by framing their concerns in this manner.Apparently the David Project has come a long way since the days when founder Charles Jacobs labeled Jewish Columbia professors who disagreed with him as “the Marranos of Morningside Heights”—essentially Jew traitors.
Targeting specific racial groups
The report calls for pro-Israel students to build alliances with other groups on campus, notably with students of color:
Campus Israel advocates often overlook the importance of emerging groups with great potential to shape the campus conversation.Translation: If left unchecked, students of color might be “co-opted” into believing that Palestinians are subjected to racist oppression. We need to co-opt them first...MORE...LINK
Many of these groups also have the potential to be co-opted into the anti-Israel coalition on campus. Preventing them from allying themselves with the anti-Israel effort or even co-opting them into pro-Israel efforts is an opportunity for a significant “win” by Israel advocates on many campuses.